Alligator River/Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge
P. O. Box 1969
Manteo, North Carolina 27954

Contact: Bonnie Strawser - 252-473-1131

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News Release

January 26, 2009

Cape Hatteras Secondary School Students Continue Pea Island Refuge Exploration

Who Goes There? Cape Hatteras Secondary School students discovered the answer on a recent field trip to Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge.

These students made their second trip to the refuge to follow-up on research started a few months earlier. This trip had a double focus: study animal tracks and "capture" digital photos of some of the wildlife.

During an earlier refuge trip, a group of students had placed motion-activated digital cameras at various spots on the North Pond Trail to find out what types of mammals used the trail.

But on this trip, before heading out on the trail to find out what, if anything, had been captured on the cameras, the group spent some time with Visitor Services Specialist Abbey Reibel learning about the various tracks wildlife leave behind. Students had the opportunity to help find tracks, identify them, and even make plaster casts of some!

One of the most exciting tracks discovered was that of a Bald Eagle. Apparently, the eagle had been shaking its prey prior to eating. There was quite a bit of disturbance on the soil near the Bald Eagle tracks.

After studying tracks, the students, accompanied by Reibel and Visitor Services Specialist Cindy Heffley, trekked out to the remote camera sites and recovered memory cards. The cameras were then strategically relocated for another round of pictures. After downloading the photos to a laptop, students learned that there are quite a number of white-tailed deer living on the refuge. The group was very excited to see all the photos.

Some of the photos captured by the motion-activated cameras will be used to create a field guide on mammals of the refuge. Other students at CHSS are working on guides about birds, reptiles, plants, aquatic life, and other things found on the refuge. This group of students will be returning to the refuge periodically throughout the school year to continue their study.

Schools or other organized groups may contact Cindy Heffley at 252-987-1118 ( to learn ways to participate in an assortment of educational activities on Pea Island and Alligator River National Wildlife Refuges. The year-long studies being undertaken by CHSS have been funded through an educational grant from the Coastal Wildlife Refuge Society- the non-profit support group for the refuge. The grant covered the cost of the cameras, as well as funding dozens of trips to the refuge far all grade-levels of students at the school. Visit for details.

Abbey Reibel talking with 6 students - most wearing camouflage
A group of students visiting Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge from Cape Hatteras Secondary School learn about animal tracks from Visitor Services Specialist Abbey Reibel before heading out onto North Pond Trail to find tracks on their own.
Photo Credit: USFWS - Cindy Heffley

A 6-point white-tailed deer caught on camera at night
Caption: Few people would expect a 6-point white-tailed deer to frequent Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge- but the students of Cape Hatteras Secondary School have documented this one!
Photo Credit: CHSS